Scientists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), United States, have developed an influenza vaccine that provides long–term immunity against various strains of flu with a single jab. The new vaccine prevents people from taking flu shots every year.
Scientists have tested the new vaccine containing the protein ferritin, which can self–assemble into microscopic pieces called nanoparticles that are about 200 times smaller than the thickness of human hair. Later, they genetically fused ferritin with hemagglutinin (HA), a protein found on the surface of the influenza virus to produce a nanoparticle with eight protruding viral spikes. This structure was used as the basis for antigen to make an experimental vaccine that used HA from a 1999 strain of H1N1 flu virus.
When this vaccine was tested on mice, it was found that a single dose produced an immune reaction, which was equivalent to two doses of the current seasonal flu vaccine. In the tests that followed, researchers figured out that the new vaccine also protected animals from a 2007 strain of H1N1 flu virus. This was quite interesting as the new vaccine was not designed to protect against this strain. It was also found that the ferrets that received the vaccine were relatively more immune than those who had not received the same. Scientists believe that this could lead to the development of a universal vaccine that protects against many strains of flu.